As part of Shacknews 25th anniversary coverage, our Video Wizard, Greg Burke, interviews Ed Fries, previous Vice President of Game Publishing for Microsoft throughout most of the original Xbox's lifespan. Greg asks Ed about his time in game development over the past 25 years and covers many of the changes and similarities found in the industry today. Fries gives us an insightful look at his new challenges faced in gaming venture capital and as an IGDA board member. He caps it off with a shoutout to Shacknews and our work over the past 25 years and David Craddocks's long-read, Bet on Black: How Microsoft and Xbox Changed Pop Culture.
Ed Fries was part of Microsoft productivity development since 1986 and had a chance to move upwards around the same time Shacknews was founded in 1996. When he expressed a desire to move on from office software to gaming, colleagues thought it was a mistake. They would soon be proven wrong when Fries would go on to lead the team that created the original Xbox console. He was a huge believer of the platform and was instrumental in courting developers like Rare, Bungie, and Ensemble Studios. Since moving on from Microsoft in 2004, Fries consulted with startups like FireAnt which would be absorbed by Sony Online Entertainment. He currently helps run a gaming venture capital company and is a board member for the IGDA Foundation, which aims to bring diversity and inclusiveness to game development.
Ed Fries graciously took his time to chat with Greg Burke about his experiences in the gaming industry for over twenty years and his outlook on the future. Ed talks a little about his start in the industry and how people balked at his transition from programming office software into managing console and game development. Greg goes on to ask about how modern game development is different from 1996 but Fries might not be the best person to ask since he isn't a fan of object-oriented programming. He even talks about Halo 2600 that he programmed for the Atari, one example I used in my feature on demakes.
Ed Fries has a very storied history in gaming and his passion shows throughout this interview. He covers a range of topics from the AAA to indie explosion, lessons learned, surprises that stick with him, aspects of the industry that need more change, and a lot more. He even goes above and beyond to congratulate Shacknews on our 25 years in the industry and highlights the long-read by David Craddock about how Microsoft and Xbox changed pop culture, Bet on Black. If you haven't read Bet on Black yet, check it out here or you can subscribe to Shacknews Mercury for as little as $1/month to gain access to all of David's long-reads in .epub format to read on any compatible device, even offline.